I had a fun fall weekend at the American Road Race of Champions (ARRC) at Road Atlanta, which is a year-end event for SCCA. I also spent some time with Ashton Harrison at Barber Motorsports Park, getting her prepped for next year’s Battery Tender Global MX-5 Cup season, which will kick off at that track during the Honda Indy Grand Prix weekend.

Rob Trollinger has spent quite a lot of time at Road Atlanta, but it was his first time there in a Spec Miata. There was a huge field of 40-plus cars in his class! Rob’s racing buddy Randy, who co-drove with him at VIR recently, had so much fun that weekend that he came to the ARRC, too.

A full field of Spec Miatas about to take the track at Road Atlanta's American Road Race of Champions.

A full field of Spec Miatas about to take the track at Road Atlanta’s American Road Race of Champions.

With so many on-track opportunities, the seat time was aplenty! Rob and Randy had two qualifying sessions for each of the three groups that they were running, so that was six on-track sessions just for qualifying, plus a 45-minute race on Friday afternoon. Each session gave us a little time to debrief and analyze some data and video before getting strapped back in for the next run. It was really fun to see their progress throughout the day. Having a lot of experience at the track, they knew the lines, so applying the differences in brake points and carrying momentum in a Spec Miata was their priority.

It was nice to have two different data points to compare. Because Rob and Randy were running similar lap times, they could work together and learn from each other. That really accelerated the learning curve for them. By the end of Friday, they were a couple of seconds quicker, and we identified some areas where they could easily shave off more time during their races the following day.

In the end, Rob and Randy always had someone to race with throughout the weekend, so they had plenty of competition. They both further improved their times, and it was a great way for them to end their 2016 season.

On Friday night, I drove two hours further to Barber Motorsports Park for a lapping event with Ashton. It was important to get started with her preparation for next year. Having the opportunity to run her Global MX-5 Cup car in several sessions per day allowed her to really dial in details that we’ll be focusing on during the race there in April. We were even able to fit in a lead-follow, creating some passing situations so we could work on race craft. Ashton will continue working away from the track to prepare for an even better 2017 season.

The ARRC was the final race of the season where I coached, so now I’m looking forward to all of the winter testing and some big announcements about 2017 that are coming soon!